Politics and foreign affairs
Lithuania protests appointment of official
The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry has delivered a protest note to Belarusian Ambassador Vladimir Harkun in response to the appointment of Lieutenant-General Vladimir Uskhopchik to Belarus' deputy defense minister post. "The Lieutenant-General of the Belarusian army, against whom a criminal case was brought in neighbouring Lithuania, is to assume office one of these days," said the protest note.
In 1991, Mr Uskhopchik was in charge of a Soviet Army division in Lithuania which took part in suppressing protests against the Soviet occupation. As a result, six people were killed and several dozen wounded during the 1991 events. Criminal charges were brought against General Uskhopchik, but he fled to Belarus, where he was named commander of an army corps in the town of Bobruisk. Now he has been promoted to the deputy defense minister position. "The appointment is not in line with the spirit of good-neighbourly relations and will have negative consequences for bilateral relations," the note said.Environment
Bison population expected to increase
Belarus' bison population is expected to increase to 500 by 2001, Mikhail Rusy, the country's minister of natural resources and environment, said at a news conference in Minsk. At present, Belarus has twice as many bison as Poland. The endangered animals now live in six national parks. They originate from the herd of pedigree bisons kept in the Belavezha National Park. "This year the bison will be resettled to three more reserves in Belarus so that the animal is moved away from the verge of extinction," Mr Rusy said.Business and Economy
Government raises excise taxes on liquor
The Council of Ministers has decided to double the rates of excise taxes on some kinds of liquor. The new rates will take effect on 4 June. The previous rates were established in January 1998. The rate for beverages having alcohol volume of up to 28 per cent will increase from EUR two to four per litre of pure alcohol in product. The exise rate will increase from EUR 0.8 to 1.5 for wine beverages made of fruit concentrates or natural raw materials with the exception of imported ones, and from EUR 1.5 to three for the beverages made of grapes and various other fruits that contain no more than 20 per cent alcohol.
Victor Lukyanow, 2 June 2000